ABSTRACT: Many neurons have limited capacity to regenerate their axons after injury. Neurons in the mammalian central nervous system do not regenerate, and even neurons in the peripheral nervous system often fail to regenerate to their former targets. This failure is likely due in part to pathways that actively restrict regeneration; however, only a few factors that limit regeneration are known. Here, using single-neuron analysis of regeneration in vivo, we show that Notch/lin-12 signaling inhibits the regeneration of mature C. elegans neurons. Notch signaling suppresses regeneration by acting autonomously in the injured cell to prevent growth cone formation. The metalloprotease and gamma-secretase cleavage events that lead to Notch activation during development are also required for its activity in regeneration. Furthermore, blocking Notch activation immediately after injury improves regeneration. Our results define a postdevelopmental role for the Notch pathway as a repressor of axon regeneration in vivo.
Project description:Neurons in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS) cannot regenerate axons after injury. in contrast, neurons in the mammalian peripheral nervous system and in some non-mammalian models, such as C. elegans and Drosophila, are able to regrow axons. Understanding the molecular mechanisms by which these neurons support axon regeneration will help us find ways to enhance mammalian CNS axon regeneration. Here, recent studies in which signaling pathways regulating naturally-occurring axon regeneration that have been identified are reviewed, focusing on how these pathways control gene expression and growth-cone function during axon regeneration.
Project description:Axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury (SCI) is intrinsically and extrinsically inhibited by multiple factors. One major factor contributing to intrinsic regeneration failure is the inability of mature neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) to activate regeneration-associated transcription factors (TFs) post-injury. A prior study identified TFs overexpressed in neurons of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) compared to the CNS; some of these could be involved in the ability of PNS neurons to regenerate. Of these, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), as well its downstream regeneration-associated targets, showed a significant upregulation in PNS neurons relative to CNS neurons, and a constitutively active variant of Stat3 (Stat3CA) promoted neurite growth when expressed in cerebellar neurons (Lerch et al., 2012; Smith et al., 2011). To further enhance STAT3's neurite outgrowth enhancing activity, Stat3CA was fused with a viral activation domain (VP16). VP16 hyperactivates TFs by recruiting transcriptional co-factors to the DNA binding domain (Hirai et al., 2010). Overexpression of this VP16-Stat3CA chimera in primary cortical neurons led to a significant increase of neurite outgrowth as well as Stat3 transcriptional activity in vitro. Furthermore, in vivo transduction of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) with AAV constructs expressing VP16-Stat3CA resulted in regeneration of optic nerve axons after injury, to a greater degree than for those expressing Stat3CA alone. These findings confirm and extend the concept that overexpression of hyperactivated transcription factors identified as functioning in PNS regeneration can promote axon regeneration in the CNS.
Project description:In contrast to neurons in the central nervous system, mature neurons in the mammalian peripheral nervous system (PNS) can regenerate axons after injury, in part, by enhancing intrinsic growth competence. However, the signalling pathways that enhance the growth potential and induce spontaneous axon regeneration remain poorly understood. Here we reveal that phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signalling is activated in response to peripheral axotomy and that PI3K pathway is required for sensory axon regeneration. Moreover, we show that glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3), rather than mammalian target of rapamycin, mediates PI3K-dependent augmentation of the growth potential in the PNS. Furthermore, we show that PI3K-GSK3 signal is conveyed by the induction of a transcription factor Smad1 and that acute depletion of Smad1 in adult mice prevents axon regeneration in vivo. Together, these results suggest PI3K-GSK3-Smad1 signalling as a central module for promoting sensory axon regeneration in the mammalian nervous system.
Project description:Regeneration of injured neurons can restore function, but most neurons regenerate poorly or not at all. The failure to regenerate in some cases is due to a lack of activation of cell-intrinsic regeneration pathways. These pathways might be targeted for the development of therapies that can restore neuron function after injury or disease. Here, we show that the DLK-1 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway is essential for regeneration in Caenorhabditis elegans motor neurons. Loss of this pathway eliminates regeneration, whereas activating it improves regeneration. Further, these proteins also regulate the later step of growth cone migration. We conclude that after axon injury, activation of this MAP kinase cascade is required to switch the mature neuron from an aplastic state to a state capable of growth.
Project description:Central nervous system (CNS) axons lose their intrinsic ability to regenerate upon maturity, whereas peripheral nervous system (PNS) axons do not. A key difference between these neuronal types is their ability to transport integrins into axons. Integrins can mediate PNS regeneration, but are excluded from adult CNS axons along with their Rab11 carriers. We reasoned that exclusion of the contents of Rab11 vesicles including integrins might contribute to the intrinsic inability of CNS neurons to regenerate, and investigated this by performing laser axotomy. We identify a novel regulator of selective axon transport and regeneration, the ARF6 guanine-nucleotide-exchange factor (GEF) EFA6 (also known as PSD). EFA6 exerts its effects from a location within the axon initial segment (AIS). EFA6 does not localise at the AIS in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) axons, and in these neurons, ARF6 activation is counteracted by an ARF GTPase-activating protein (GAP), which is absent from the CNS, ACAP1. Depleting EFA6 from cortical neurons permits endosomal integrin transport and enhances regeneration, whereas overexpressing EFA6 prevents DRG regeneration. Our results demonstrate that ARF6 is an intrinsic regulator of regenerative capacity, implicating EFA6 as a focal molecule linking the AIS, signalling and transport.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.
Project description:In contrast to neurons in the CNS, damaged neurons from the peripheral nervous system (PNS) regenerate, but this process can be slow and imperfect. Successful regeneration is orchestrated by cytoskeletal reorganization at the tip of the proximal axon segment and cytoskeletal disassembly of the distal segment. Collapsin response mediator protein 4 (CRMP4) is a cytosolic phospho-protein that regulates the actin and microtubule cytoskeleton. During development, CRMP4 promotes growth cone formation and dendrite development. Paradoxically, in the adult CNS, CRMP4 impedes axon regeneration. Here, we investigated the involvement of CRMP4 in peripheral nerve injury in male and female Crmp4-/- mice following sciatic nerve injury. We find that sensory axon regeneration and Wallerian degeneration are impaired in Crmp4-/- mice following sciatic nerve injury. In vitro analysis of dissociated dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons from Crmp4-/- mice revealed that CRMP4 functions in the proximal axon segment to promote the regrowth of severed DRG neurons and in the distal axon segment where it facilitates Wallerian degeneration through calpain-dependent formation of harmful CRMP4 fragments. These findings reveal an interesting dual role for CRMP4 in proximal and distal axon segments of injured sensory neurons that coordinately facilitate PNS axon regeneration.
Project description:Spinal cord injury leads to persistent behavioral deficits because mammalian central nervous system axons fail to regenerate. A neuron's response to axon injury results from a complex interplay of neuron-intrinsic and environmental factors. The contribution of axotomy to the death of neurons in spinal cord injury is controversial because very remote axotomy is unlikely to result in neuronal death, whereas death of neurons near an injury may reflect environmental factors such as ischemia and inflammation. In lampreys, axotomy due to spinal cord injury results in delayed apoptosis of spinal-projecting neurons in the brain, beyond the extent of these environmental factors. This retrograde apoptosis correlates with delayed resealing of the axon, and can be reversed by inducing rapid membrane resealing with polyethylene glycol. Studies in mammals also suggest that polyethylene glycol may be neuroprotective, although the mechanism(s) remain unclear. This review examines the early, mechanical, responses to axon injury in both mammals and lampreys, and the potential of polyethylene glycol to reduce injury-induced pathology. Identifying the mechanisms underlying a neuron's response to axotomy will potentially reveal new therapeutic targets to enhance regeneration and functional recovery in humans with spinal cord injury.
Project description:Mature neurons in the adult peripheral nervous system can effectively switch from a dormant state with little axonal growth to robust axon regeneration upon injury. The mechanisms by which injury unlocks mature neurons' intrinsic axonal growth competence are not well understood. Here, we show that peripheral sciatic nerve lesion in adult mice leads to elevated levels of Tet3 and 5-hydroxylmethylcytosine in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Functionally, Tet3 is required for robust axon regeneration of DRG neurons and behavioral recovery. Mechanistically, peripheral nerve injury induces DNA demethylation and upregulation of multiple regeneration-associated genes in a Tet3- and thymine DNA glycosylase-dependent fashion in DRG neurons. In addition, Pten deletion-induced axon regeneration of retinal ganglion neurons in the adult CNS is attenuated upon Tet1 knockdown. Together, our study suggests an epigenetic barrier that can be removed by active DNA demethylation to permit axon regeneration in the adult mammalian nervous system.
Project description:In non-mammalian vertebrates, some neurons can regenerate after spinal cord injury. One of these, the giant Mauthner (M-) neuron shows a uniquely direct link to a robust survival-critical escape behavior but appears to regenerate poorly. Here we use two-photon microscopy in parallel with behavioral assays in zebrafish to show that the M-axon can regenerate very rapidly and that the recovery of functionality lags by just days. However, we also find that the site of the injury is critical: While regeneration is poor both close and far from the soma, rapid regeneration and recovery of function occurs for injuries between 10% and 50% of total axon length. Our findings show that rapid regeneration and the recovery of function can be studied at remarkable temporal resolution after targeted injury of one single M-axon and that the decision between poor and rapid regeneration can be studied in this one axon.
Project description:In a recent study, we showed that GABA and baclofen (a GABAB receptor agonist) inhibit caspase activation and promote axon regeneration in descending neurons of the sea lamprey brainstem after a complete spinal cord injury (Romaus-Sanjurjo et al., 2018a). Now, we repeated these treatments and performed 2 independent Illumina RNA-Sequencing studies in the brainstems of control and GABA or baclofen treated animals. GABA treated larval sea lampreys with their controls were analyzed 29 days after a complete spinal cord injury and baclofen treated larvae with their controls 9 days after the injury. One of the most significantly downregulated genes after both treatments was a HES gene (HESB). HES proteins are transcription factors that are key mediators of the Notch signaling pathway and gamma-secretase activity is crucial for the activation of this pathway. So, based on the RNA-Seq results we subsequently treated spinal cord injured larval sea lampreys with a novel gamma-secretase inhibitor (PF-3804014). This treatment also reduced the expression of HESB in the brainstem and significantly enhanced the regeneration of individually identifiable descending neurons after a complete spinal cord injury. Our results show that gamma-secretase could be a novel target to promote axon regeneration after nervous system injuries.